TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would expand employment options for New Jersey residents by establishing counseling and job training programs for those who own or are starting a microenterprise business cleared the full Senate today and was sent to the governor’s desk. A microenterprise business is a small business of less than five employees, requiring less than $35,000 in startup capital.
“The pathway to self-sufficiency must include opportunities for self-employment,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “We have many residents who have the skills and the determination to grow their own businesses, but lack the resources that can get them to that point. Microenterprise programs are a model for success that can help uplift families from poverty and bring them new opportunities.”
The bill (S-1509) amends the counseling requirements to be offered at One Stop Career Centers to include an evaluation of an individual’s ability to engage in self-employment training, information about self-employment training opportunities, and information about the success of past participants in such training. The bill clarifies that individuals seeking to embark upon microenterprise self-employment ventures will be counseled by qualified business counselors rather than qualified job counselors. The legislation also specifies that federal job training funds could be used for microenterprise self-employment training.
Finally, the bill would require the Department of Community Affairs to give emphasis to project applications that involve the development or expansion of a microenterprise, benefit low and moderate income neighborhoods, and improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents when the department determines whether projects proposed for eligibility by nonprofit organizations under the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program qualify to receive tax credits under that program.
Microenterprise development programs provide low-income entrepreneurs with the skills and capital needed to start or improve a small business and help them achieve economic self-sufficiency, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Common microenterprise industries include: jewelry making, arts and crafts, clothing and textiles, furniture repair, computer technology, day care, recycling, taxi service, street vending, in-home catering and food preparation, nail care, and hair braiding. The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) reported that microenterprises account for 88 percent of the nation’s businesses and are responsible for creating an average of 900,000 new jobs annually.
The bill cleared the full Senate 37-0 and cleared the Assembly 70-0-1 in November. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk.